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DAILY ALERT

April 1, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

The Intifada Will Resume in the Fall - Alex Fishman (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 1Apr05)
    Right after the Gaza disengagement, according to military assessments, the cessation of terrorist attacks will end.
    The theater of operations will be Judea and Samaria.
    The threat will entail attacks on major roads, military camps, and settlements.
    The main threat will come from mortar and Kassam rocket attacks on Route 6 (Trans-Israel Highway) and on the cities of the coastal plain.
    The terrorist organizations have started to order rockets, while Israeli security services unite in an attempt to block the smuggling.
    Whether Israel's security services will block the smuggling of rockets or not will make all the difference between a political settlement or a war.
    The IDF Central Command is already prepared for the next round of armed conflict with the Palestinians.

    See also IDF: Relative Calm Expected At Least Until After Pullout (Jerusalem Post)
    The relative calm in the region will continue at least until after the implementation of the disengagement plan this summer, a senior officer in the IDF Intelligence Directorate estimated on Thursday, according to Army Radio.


Al-Qaeda Makes Surprising Weapon Advances - John J. Lumpkin (AP/Newsday)
    Al-Qaeda had progressed much further toward developing a biological weapon before the Sept. 11 attacks than the U.S. realized, the presidential commission investigating intelligence on weapons of mass destruction found.
    The intelligence community was surprised by al-Qaeda's advances in a virulent strain of the disease identified by the commission only as "Agent X" to prevent al-Qaeda from knowing what the U.S. government has learned.
    The discovery of al-Qaeda's work came only after the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan removed the Taliban from power, the report says.
    The work on Agent X was done at several sites in Afghanistan, including two with commercial lab equipment.


IDF Catches Palestinian Smuggling Bullets in Shoe - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers searching a Palestinian bus at the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus found 10 M16 bullets in a plastic bag hidden inside the sole of a passenger's shoe.


UAE Newspaper Urges Open Markets with Israel (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The English-language Khaleej Times of Dubai issued a rare call for Arab countries to forge ties with Israel, arguing that opening up the oil-rich Gulf region to the Jewish state would speed up a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    If the Israelis are exposed to business opportunities in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and see the progress these countries have made, "they will work faster to solve the problems," wrote publisher Mohammed Galadari.
    Galadari's call for a "new approach" to the Palestinian issue came a month after reports of meetings in February between Israeli leaders and a senior official from Dubai.


New Anti-Israel Hate Song on PA TV - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Despite vows by PA chairman Abbas to remove incitement to hatred and violence against Israel from official Palestinian television, a cultural program broadcast on PA TV this week features a song laced with hatred of Israel, accusing Israel of torturing, mutilating, and killing Palestinians in the name of God.


Saudi Cleric Retracts Anti-Semitic Statements (MEMRI)
    As part of the official Saudi government TV coverage of Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism conference in Riyadh in February, Saudi Sheikh 'Aed Al-Qarni made statements accusing the Jews and the U.S. of using terrorism.
    Later, after his statements were translated by MEMRI, Al-Qarni retracted these statements on Saudi TV.


North Caucasian Prisons Becoming Wahhabi Schools (Novosti-Russia)
    North Caucasian penitentiaries are evolving into seats of Wahhabism, a radical Muslim trend uncharacteristic of the local brand of Islam, warned Victor Rakitin of the Russian federal Interior Ministry.


Ethiopian Immigrant Woman Elected Deputy Council Head - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Ayech Balinash, 49, who immigrated to Israel in 1991 from Ethiopia, has been elected as deputy head of the Kiryat Malakhi local authority.


Chief Rabbi: India's Bnei Menashe Are Descendants of Ancient Israelites - Yair Sheleg (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar decided on Wednesday to recognize the members of India's Bnei Menashe community as descendants of the ancient Israelites.
    The community consists of 7,000 members of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribe which lives in northeast India.
    For generations they kept Jewish traditions, claiming to be descended from the tribe of Menashe.
    A number of researchers who visited the group over the years got the impression that their traditions are authentically Israelite in origin.
    Some 800 have immigrated to Israel over the past twelve years.


Deputy Police Chief Releases "Israel Report" - Darren Taylor (LTVNews-Canada)
    Sault Ste. Marie Deputy Police Chief Bob Kates on Thursday presented his report on his trip to Israel and how he would like to see Sault Police Services take a page out of Israel's book.
    Kates' report will be made available to other jurisdictions within Ontario.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Exiles: Iran Seeks to Obtain Nuclear Warheads - Kerstin Gehmlich
    Iran allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads last year, an exiled opposition group said Thursday, without saying whether Iran had secured any of the warheads. The group, which has given accurate information in the past on some of Iran's nuclear facilities, also said Iran was speeding up work on a reactor south of Tehran which could produce enough plutonium for an atomic bomb by 2007.
        The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exile group that wants to oust Iran's clerical rulers, said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had told the defense minister to take steps to obtain nuclear warheads. "In mid-2004, Khamenei allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads," Mohammad Mohaddessin of the NCRI told a news conference in Paris. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Egypt in Grip of Political Uncertainty - Hamza Hendawi
    Egypt has slipped into an unusual state of political uncertainty in recent weeks, with increasingly bold street protests and rampant speculation over who will succeed President Hosni Mubarak. The new climate could pose risks for a nation that has gone 50 years or more without genuine democratic rule.
        "Too much has been set loose," said Rosemary Hollis, the top Middle East expert at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. "The regime believes people need a strong leadership and will rally behind Mubarak when things get messy. But it may be too late to clamp down and go back to how things were." Sustained U.S. pressure on Mubarak and the Egyptian leader's subsequent decision to open presidential elections in September to other candidates are at the heart of the country's new climate. "I believe we've entered a very dangerous phase," Mohammed Heikal, Egypt's most prominent analyst, warned on al-Jazeera. "An opening has been made and it will lead to much bigger things." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Jewish Students Blast New Columbia Report - David Andreatta
    Despite dozens of complaints from Jewish students at Columbia University that Middle East studies professors had intimidated them, an internal probe by a faculty committee has found only a single instance where an instructor acted unreasonably toward a pro-Israel student. "This report...delegitimizes numerous valid complaints by students, and we are determined to fight on for justice," said Aharon Horwitz, who had testified before the committee. Students said they believed that the committee was biased and included at least one member, Farah Jasmine Griffin, who had signed a petition calling on the university to distance itself from companies that provide arms to Israel. (New York Post)
        See also Text of Columbia Faculty Committee Report (Columbia University)
        See also Joseph Massad's Mangled Lexicon (CAMERA)
  • The Case the Saudis Can't Make - Faiza Saleh Ambah
    Academics Matrouk al-Faleh and Abdullah al-Hamid and poet Ali al-Domeini have been behind bars in Saudi Arabia for a year. Their case, and not the ballot box, has become my barometer for real change in the kingdom. Without the rule of law, this so-called Arabian Spring will prove to be as illusory as a desert mirage. With their insistence on an open trial and legal counsel - rights granted but not exercised in this kingdom - these veteran activists have laid bare the Saudi legal system. Their case now stands as a symbol of how far Saudi Arabia still has to go. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abu Mazen Is Losing Strength and Stamina - Arnon Regular
    An increasingly organized effort to undermine Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas' authority reached a peak on Wednesday when some 20 men wanted by Israel opened fire on the PA's Ramallah headquarters, and vandalized several high-class restaurants in the city that are patronized by senior PA officials. On Thursday a temporary police station in Tulkarm was torched, armed men marched in Jenin and Nablus, and cars belonging to candidates running for local office in Gaza were bombed.
        Almost three months after taking office, it has become clear that Abbas' influence over the armed men, the security services, and the leaders of Fatah's institutions is virtually nonexistent. The gap between his exalted international standing and his ability to impose his authority at home is growing, and it is not clear what will remain of his promises to reform the PA and provide personal security to ordinary Palestinians. The key problem is his inability to forge political alliances and to win the allegiance of the heads of the security services and of Fatah's younger generation. Not one security chief has been fired. The plan to unify the security service is going nowhere, as is a plan to pension off veteran but ineffective officers. "Abu Mazen lacks the strength and stamina to stand his ground," the head of one of the Gaza security services said Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Militants' Wild West Night Leaves West Bank Town Dismayed - Steven Erlanger
    Osama Khalaf, general manager of the Darna restaurant, walked over broken window glass through his dining rooms, showing the smashed tables, overturned dishes, and the bullet holes in the refrigerators, bars, and televisions. "It's a challenge to Abu Mazen," Khalaf said. "Who's going to run the show, him or the gunmen?" (New York Times)
        See also Palestinians Retreat on Crackdown Pledge - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Palestinian officials Thursday backed away from a pledge to crack down on gunmen who shot up Mahmoud Abbas' office building Wednesday. Under a compromise, the gunmen will be allowed to rejoin their former units in the security forces. (AP/ABC News)
  • Abu Mazen Is Standing In Place - Ze'ev Schiff
    Abu Mazen has not carried out the reform in the Palestinian security services. According to his agreement with Israel, the wanted men in each city evacuated by the Israel Defense Forces must hand over their weapons and register with the PA, and the IDF will stop chasing them. An ostensibly simple agreement, but Abu Mazen is unable, or unwilling, to implement it. In Israel there is a willingness to evacuate additional Palestinian cities in the West Bank, but there is a fear that such a step will open the door for lethal attacks in Israel.
        PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) is subverting Abu Mazen and is acting to trip him up. Senior figures surrounding Abu Mazen are compartmentalizing him, reporting to him in a distorted manner, or not carrying out his instructions. Abu Mazen is standing in place, and not only in relations with Israel, but also on the issue of the necessary reform of the divided Fatah organization. In internal discussions, Hamas leaders spend a great deal of time dealing with the question of how to act after their victory in the upcoming elections. (Ha'aretz)
  • East Jerusalem Brothers Get Seven Life Terms for Cafe Hillel Bombing - Yuval Yoaz
    Two east Jerusalem brothers involved in the September 2003 Cafe Hillel terror attack in Jerusalem, which killed seven people and wounded 64, were each sentenced Thursday to seven life terms and an additional 30 years in prison. Ahmed Abid and Na'al Abid hid the explosives belt used in the attack, brought the bomber to the cafe, and showed him where to stand. They established a terror cell that operated under the framework of the military wing of Hamas and claimed it was part of al-Qaeda. (Ha'aretz)
        Among those killed in the Cafe Hillel bombing were Cleveland-born Dr. David Applebaum, who headed the emergency room at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital, and his 20-year-old daughter Nava, who was due to marry the next day. In the courtroom Thursday, the two unrepentant Arab men could be seen smiling and waving to their family. At least 80 Jerusalem Arabs have been indicted for terrorist crimes over the past four years, security officials said, with the Shin Bet attributing the direct aid of Jerusalem Arabs to 15 major suicide bombings in the capital. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Syria and the New Axis of Evil - Charles Krauthammer
    We are at the dawn of an Arab Spring and its emerging mortal enemy is a new axis of evil whose fulcrum is Syria. The axis stretches from Iran, the other remaining terror state in the region, to Syria, to the local terror groups - Hizballah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad - that are bent on destabilizing Lebanon, Israel, and the PA, and destroying both Lebanese independence and the current Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement. Iran is the senior partner of this axis of evil. Syria is the crucial middle party allowing a non-Arab state to reach into the heart of the Middle East. Hizballah receives its weapons from Iran, shipped through Syria, and Iranian Revolutionary Guards are stationed today in the Bekaa Valley, under Syrian protection.
        Syria is the geographic center of the axis, the transshipment point for weapons, and the territorial haven for Iranian and regional terrorists. If Syria can be flipped, the axis is broken. Iran will not be able to communicate directly with the local terrorists. Prospects for true Lebanese independence and Arab-Israeli peace will improve dramatically. We need to be relentless in insisting on a full (and as humiliating as possible) evacuation of Syria from Lebanon, followed by a campaign of economic, political, and military pressure on the Assad regime. We must push now and push hard. (Washington Post)
  • The "Contiguity" Double Standard - Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini
    After Israel approved building a new neighborhood in Maale Adumim, a few miles east of Jerusalem, many news reports indicated that such building is objectionable because it would prevent Palestinians from controlling "contiguous territory" in the West Bank. These charges - an extension of the accusation that Israel is trying to separate the Palestinians into "cantons" or "bantustans" - are false. Moreover, they demonstrate a double standard in that they advocate contiguity for Palestinians by cutting off contiguity for Israelis.
        The question of contiguity for Palestinians is contrived. Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank would be no more cut off with the so-called E-1 corridor than would Israeli contiguity if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, even with slight modifications. Furthermore, Palestinian access to Jerusalem would not be precluded by building in a corridor between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem. (CAMERA)
  • The Palestine Problem - Caroline Glick
    Developments within the PA this week indicate that both Israel and the U.S. have been horribly wrong in their decision to accept Abbas. As was the case with Arafat, for many it is unclear whether or not Abbas wishes to or is capable of reining in terrorists. Because they have placed so much stress on Abbas's legitimacy, both the Bush administration and the Israeli government are clearly averse to mentioning that there is a serious problem with what has been happening in the PA since he took over. On the military front, the Palestinians are acquiring weapons systems such as SA-7 Strella anti-aircraft missiles that constitute a major leap forward in their war-making capacity against Israel. Abbas's offer to the Palestinian terror groups outside the PA umbrella to move their headquarters from Damascus to Gaza after Israel's evacuation shows that in his strategic thinking, the territory, once empty of Israeli presence, will be transformed into a center for global terror.
        According to Dr. Michael Widlanski, who monitors the PA's media, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives claim that their decision to join the PLO is based on the PLO's staged plan for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Arab state. The fact that Abbas is responding to his weakness by giving free rein to terrorists in the PA calls into question the entire rationale of the current Israeli and American policies toward Abbas and the PA. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas to Join the PLO - Khalid Amayreh
    The Palestinian Islamic resistance group, Hamas, and its junior sister, the Islamic Jihad, have decided in principle to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas feels it is strong enough and confident enough now to join the PLO, not as a "newcomer" but a full partner. Despite its successes and preeminence in the intifada, Hamas has had until now little impact on the formulation of national policies affecting the Palestinian people. According to Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, one of the main factors contributing to Hamas' decision is a growing concern that the PLO and the PA are not reliable enough to be entrusted "alone" with the national cause. "I can tell you that one of the main reasons for joining the PLO is to prevent it from conceding to Israel on paramount national issues," said Al-Zahhar on Tuesday.
        When asked if he thought that the inclusion of Hamas into the PLO would radicalize the organization and consequently make a peace settlement with Israel even more unlikely, Al-Zahhar pointed out that Hamas, and the bulk of Palestinians, do not believe anyway that "peace is around the corner." "What is happening now and what will go on for many years to come is not a real political process. It is actually no more than public relations and crisis management; the Americans know it, the Zionists know it, and even the PA knows it," he said. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Retreat from Gaza - Jeff Jacoby
    The supporters of withdrawal make a plausible case. Defending the Gaza settlements exacts a heavy military and financial cost, they say, tying down far too many soldiers to protect relatively few civilians. Pulling out of the territory will shorten Israel's line of defense. And once Gaza's Jews depart, the terrorists will be deprived of victims to attack. But the world doesn't work that way. To retreat in the face of terror is to invite more of it, not less. Handing Gaza over to the gangsters of Hamas and the PLO will not leave them ''stewing in their own juices" but celebrating their victory. As they take over the houses, farms, and schools of the people they demonized and terrorized for years, they will draw the obvious conclusion: Violence works, and the Jews are on the run. ''A Hamas flag over Netzarim will justify 37 years of terrorism," writes Michael Rubin, the editor of the Middle East Quarterly. An Israeli withdrawal will embolden rejectionists across the region. ''If terrorism can free Gaza, why not the West Bank, the Galilee, Indian Kashmir, or democratic Iraq?" (Boston Globe)
  • Why Syria Will Not Go Quietly - Brian Maher
    Lebanon is Damascus' strongest negotiating card with Israel. Losing Lebanon, in the full sense of the word, would represent a significant attenuation of Syria's deterrent posture with Israel - and, if that is lost, a diminution of leverage over the Palestinian issue may not be far behind. Damascus will not relinquish that easily. (The Standard-China)
  • Israel and NATO: Opportunities and Risks - Zaki Shalom
    The argument that integration in NATO will increase Israel's deterrent capability is true to only a limited extent, if at all: The order of battle currently possessed by Israel awards it considerable strength, permitting it to create a reliable dimension of deterrence against potential military threats. Israel possesses strong bilateral relations with the U.S., which in practice award it the status of an informal ally. Since Israel's establishment, all U.S. administrations have declared their deep commitment toward Israel and to preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Israel possesses a nuclear option, i.e., it enjoys a situation in which the countries of the region and, in fact, the entire international community regard it as a country having a nuclear capability without it itself ever having stated whether or not it possesses such a capability. Practical cooperation with NATO countries has already expanded and will continue to expand Israel's deterrent capability. Thus it seems that joining NATO will contribute to Israel's deterrent capability only marginally, if at all. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    Weekend Features

  • The Battle for Public Relations
    In informational as well as military terms, the Palestinians are far outgunned. Israel has press officers in every ministry and embassy and an annual PR-training course in Washington, D.C., for selected spokespeople. The foreign ministry has a 24-hour monitoring center which analyzes coverage in several languages, counts the airtime given to Israeli and Palestinian spokespeople down to the last second, and sends out real-time electronic reports on it to officials.
        As a legacy of Arafat's one-man domination of power, there is no government press office (there is an information ministry, but nobody is quite sure what it does); no coordinated message; no systematic media monitoring. Public statements mostly come either from officials who do not have media training or from public personalities who do but are not in the government. The closest thing to a Palestinian makeover came during the intifada in the form of Diana Buttu and Michael Tarazi, Canadian- and American-born lawyers who conveyed a consistent message in perfect English. But the two worked not for the PA itself but for the negotiations branch of the PLO. Dissatisfied international donors cancelled funding for their communications project last year. (Economist-UK)
  • Israel and the Big Lie - Natan Sharansky
    In the last few years, Israel has been portrayed, and therefore perceived, as a brutal occupying power that represses Palestinians. The fact that this perception, often fueled by graphic television images with little context, is not true does not make it less real to the people who hold it. Nor are the realities of checkpoints, searches, and closures pleasant ones. But moral clarity demands an understanding of context, of cause and effect. It demands a sense of proportion. Excerpted from his book The Case for Democracy. (Frontpagemagazine)
  • A Jihadist's Tale: How a Young Jordanian Left His American Life and Died an Insurgent in Iraq - Scott Macleod
    Ra'ed al-Banna loved America. He told his family back in Jordan about the honesty and kindness of Americans. After a visit home in 2003, he was denied entry at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for apparently falsifying details on his visa application. Al-Banna's life took a turn that led him down the path of radical Islam and ultimately to join the insurgency against the U.S. in Iraq. His odyssey ended on March 3 when al-Banna's brother Ahmed received a call, "Congratulations, your brother has fallen a martyr." On Feb. 28, in the worst single massacre since the U.S. invasion, a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a health clinic in the city of Hilla, killing at least 125 people. On March 11 the Amman daily Al-Ghad identified Ra'ed al-Banna as the attacker. (TIME)
  • What Islamic Schools Are Teaching - Daniel Pipes
    A class valedictorian at the Islamic Saudi Academy of Alexandria, Virginia, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was recently indicted for plotting to assassinate President Bush. The Muslim Community School in Potomac, Maryland, imbues in its students a sense of alienation from their own country. Eighth-grader Ibrahim told a Washington Post reporter, "Being an American means nothing to me." In Ajax, Ontario, 50 km east of Toronto, the Institute of Islamic Learning is a Canadian emulation of the extremist Deobandi madrassas of Pakistan. It focuses exclusively on religious topics, has students memorize the Koran, demands total segregation from the Canadian milieu, and requires complete gender separation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Confronting Reality: Anti-Semitism in Australia Today - Jeremy Jones
    Australia has a well-earned reputation as being welcoming to Jews. Anti-Semitism has often been spoken of as an illness of the Old World and the Third World, with the Australian national ethos of giving everyone a "fair go" effectively rendering the country immune from anti-Semitism. In recent years, however, there has been a growing acknowledgment both of the presence of anti-Semitism and the responsibility of political and moral leadership to confront it. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    A Better Model Than Beirut - Tamara Cofman Wittes (Washington Post)

    • Those who hope that Lebanon will play the role of catalyst for a regional democratic awakening may be looking in the wrong place. Lebanon's demonstrations, though they surprised and stirred Arab observers, are not likely to be emulated in other Arab capitals.
    • The Lebanese opposition labeled this past month's actions its "independence intifada," not its democracy intifada. The Lebanese demonstrators have a problem with Syria. That's not a message that speaks to Arabs elsewhere, because the primary barrier to democracy they face is not an outside power's diktat but rather indigenous dictatorship.
    • As they prepare for more municipal elections in April and legislative balloting in July, Palestinians are debating the problem of official corruption, the proper role of security services in a democratic state, and the legacy of one-party dominance of political life - problems with which most other Arabs are intimately familiar.
    • If the tentative cease-fire now in place takes hold, the next question will be how to remove violence from the political stage and integrate Palestine's radical Islamist movements into mainstream politics.
    • Palestinians come to their democratic struggle with determination born of their experience living under the ironic reality of military occupation by the region's most democratic government. Palestinian activists often note that seeing Israel's democracy close up has fed Palestinians' commitment to build their own.

      The writer is a research fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.


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